During my research on I realized how rich a county it was unlike most of the African countries yet nobody really talks about this 753000 km 13 million people strong land locked country called Zambia. Zambia is strategically placed and shares borders with 8 countries-the DRC, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and Angola. In order to know more about this land I research the Political, Economic and Social parameter to analyze the developments in Zambia and the challenges that it has to overcome in the near future.
Zambia is docile when it comes to political stability. There have been no upheavals wanting to change the government or governments by a coup d’état and, aside from the occasional high-profile assassination. Any violent conflicts usually end in courtroom rather than resorting to taking up arms. Zambia enjoys absolute democracy since 1991 and had a major change in political arena when the two major parties- the Patriotic Front (PF) and and the United Party for National Development (UPND) decided to merge to fight the presidential elections as Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) which has been in power since 1991. Despite of the politically stable environment the leadership is not at its best as its dampened by corruption and political interference, in fact Zambia was ranked 75th out of 91 in the Transparency International Corruption Perception index according to the African Economic Outlook. The Zambian government in order to combat this problem has put in strict laws against corruption wherein cases included alleged financial improprieties in the health and roads sectors were addressed and made punishable because of which certain sector improves and Zambia moved up 6 spots in the Index in 2003 resulting in the positive impact created by the government.
In the above table populated by World Development Indicators in 2011 there had been a tremendous potential of growth. From 2000-2009 the growth rate was about 5% that led to a major hike in the GDP Per capita, which was recorded, to be 1703 USD from 330 USD in 2001, showing the enormous progress made by Zambia in less than a decade. This rapid growth in the Zambian economy primarily attributed to the Governments bold move of privatization and liberalization that freed a lot of its resources by allowing the private sector to step in which led to a rapid increase in the FDI’s from 2% in 2001 to 10% in 2010 as it promoted a lot of trade with its global counterparts as seen by the trade openness ratio of 73.2 which initiated the move for Zambia from a Lease Developed Country to a Middle Income Country.
This improvement and resilience of the Zambian economy is partially attributed to decisive government policy reforms of the late 1990s of privatization and liberalization. By government allowing private sector to participate in the economy, it allowed to free some of the resources while at the same time encourage foreign direct investment (FDI) to flow into the country. This was also experienced in nontraditional sectors such as services and manufacturing. Agriculture also benefited from these policies as more investment flowed into the sector. In 2011 FDI increased to 10% of the GDP compared to a mere 2% in 2001. A further breakdown of Zambia’ GDP can be seen from the above chart populated by the Central Statistics office. In the above chart shows a breakdown in 3 sectors the Primary, Secondary and Tertiary or the Services sectors respectively from 2006 to 2010. The services sectors being the largest of all the 3 constitute 48% of the total GDP follow by the secondary growing steadily from just over a quarter to almost one third. The biggest problem that can clearly be seen from the above chart is that the Primary sectors that include the manufacturing is still below 10% and contributes very minimally towards the GDP as a while. While steps to create global alliances with countries like china and brazil are being taken to import goods to reap the damages of a week primary sector especially in construction which has led manufacturing to grow to about 5% in the next 5 years. Zambian Government is making a cautious effort to minimize its dependence on other countries as imports and trying to facilitate and create a base for the locally produced goods and services on the other hand making sure that the other two sectors are also growing and performing at the same level if not better.
The UNDP reported a steep drop in poverty from a 51% in 1998 to 51% in 2006 but the fact is that extreme poverty still effects parts of the rural areas as in certain pockets it is as high as 67%. Concentrated poverty pockets leek to increasing crime rates and illegal activities unlike those in more scattered pockets, which becomes an area of concern. Even though the economic growth s rapid but that does not result in generating employment especially in case of Zambia. A poor manufacturing base is a reason for this as well. Manufacturing invites both skilled as well as unskilled labor to be a part of it unlike the secondary or tertiary sectors that require education and certain medium of instruction, which is why the employment generating opportunities are very narrow. Zambian Government should incorporate polices that address food pricing, marketing more of their agricultural produce so that more channels of income can be generated, farmer incentive and investment opportunities that will help Zambia utilize its human capital to their full potential and help foster all round development not just economic. Distribution of wealth is very difficult to attain in most developing countries- the rich getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer this gap if not bridged on time leads to serious problems in the future resulting in exploitation and human rights issues.
Zambia is currently facing an AIDS epidemic where 17% of the affected are adults 17-25 years of age. Lack of healthcare facilities and awareness has resulted in the biggest challenge that faces Zambia today that has crippled its youth. Most of the AIDS affected are in towns and cities unlike rural areas seeing the population density is high in there. The sad pat is that there are o state of the art healthcare facilities for treating AIDS affected and no expert consultation services as well. One of the biggest obstacles that look in the eye of Zambian progress is its healthcare. Despite of aid by the UN and USA it is not affordable and accessible to all. One has to have the privilege of getting healthcare, which is a basic human necessity. He Zambian Government will have to enforce radical changes to generate awareness and provide affordable treatment to the affected at the earliest. They will also have to come up with setting up a mechanism in which specialized hospitals and clinics are located in every town that are equipped to provide expert advice from competent doctors.
There s no doubt that Zambia as an economy has come a long way but still its not enough. The social conditions are just not fit for long-term development. Zambia has to aim for a holistic development strategy and not just certain areas. Economic growth will lead to only inequalities in distribution of wealth, which is not the answer to the problem but a major cause for future problems. He government has to work on implementing policies that aim at the improvement of social conditions. Zambia has to harness the human capital it has else it will loose its competitive advantage and global recognition it has earned globally.